You just never know. I happened to be at a family gathering recently and was seated next to a woman who I did not know. She mentioned that she worked for her state’s Department of Labor and was an unemployment counselor. We got to talking and I found out a bunch of neat things that I didn’t know about unemployment.
(Disclaimer: I am not an attorney or unemployment counselor, so you should check out what I say with your state’s Department of Labor or a real labor attorney.)
- Depending on your situation, you may be able to shop your unemployment claim to a different state. If you have worked for employers in different states or even, sometimes, if your corporation has its headquarters in a state, you may be able to file there. Why is this important? Unemployment is handled as a state matter. Therefore, each state has its own limit on weekly benefits. A list of 2008 maximums by state can be found here. The differences can be staggering. Florida was at $275, but if there is some chance that you can collect from Massachusetts, your weekly maximum could be $900.
- You can file for non-contiguous time frames. Say that your boss lays you off, but then offers to pay you half your salary for half time. You are better off working one week on and one week off. In this case, you can file for unemployment on your off weeks until you get a job. Do not work half days because any day that you show up for work cannot be counted towards unemployment.
- If you do get laid off, look for opportunities to go back to school. Unemployment compensation can sometimes extend throughout your academic program, even if it exceeds the normal time frames. In addition, there are often state grants for retraining that can be applied for to pay for tuition.
- There have been many changes to unemployment law and practice in the past year due to the economic conditions. Make sure to do your homework or talk to an employment counselor at your Department of Labor to see about the $25 Federal increase and the extension of unemployment benefits.
Certainly, no one wants to be on unemployment, but if you or someone you know has been affected by this economy, it pays to know the rules at the Department of Labor.